Weight Watchers is a commercial organization offering flexible food plans, weekly support meetings, and an emphasis on sensible eating and healthful lifestyle habits, including regular exercise all designed to assist overweight people with their weight-loss goals. Members are assigned an initial target of losing 10% of their body weight through a combination of exercise and food plans designed to reach that goal.
The program offers two food plans:
- The Flex Plan—All foods are assigned point values. No food is prohibited, as long as the total number of points does not exceed the daily allotment. The newest version of the Flex Plan is the PointsPlus Program, introduced in late 2010.
- The Core Plan—This plan focuses on choosing nutritious, low-calorie foods from every food group instead of counting points.
The weekly support meetings and detailed diet plans could work well for you if you like having specific instructions and enjoy meeting with other people who have had similar experience with wanting to lose weight.
Get started: Weight Watchers requires that you purchase membership in the program to attend group support meetings, to receive printed materials, and/or to participate in their online programs.
More about this diet
In the traditional program, called the Flex Plan, all foods are assigned point values according to fat, calorie, and fiber content. Each member is given a daily range of allowed points, and no foods are prohibited as long as dieters don’t exceed their daily or weekly point maximum. Higher fat and higher calorie foods have higher point values. Lower calorie and higher fiber foods have fewer points, so you can eat more of them. Increasing exercise allows a member to earn more points which increases daily point allowances. Having more daily points allows a person to eat a bit more, without exceeding their point limit. Increasing exercise allows a member to earn more points for additional daily point allowances. A website (www.weightwatchers.com), printed guides, cookbooks, and branded Weight Watchers foods available in grocery stores are designed to help members learn and apply this point system.
A newer version of the Flex Plan, called PointsPlus, was introduced in 2010. The new program takes into account the concepts of energy and nutrient density and recognizes the need to limit empty calories in the diet. Simply put, not all calories are created equal in terms of the nutrition they provide the body. One hundred calories of fruit is more nutritious than 100 calories of cookies. The calories in these two choices are equal, but the fruit offers more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other valuable nutrients. In this way, PointsPlus is designed to encourage people to eat fewer processed food, and focus more on eating healthy, whole, unprocessed foods.
Another program, called the Core Plan, provides a list of nutritious and filling yet low-calorie items in every food group that can be eaten freely without counting points. Occasional treats are allowed in both plans, and members can switch from one plan to the other if they desire.
Weekly group meetings led by a trained, experienced member allow dieters to get advice and support one another. Members are encouraged to weigh themselves at each meeting. Online tools are available to members for counting Flex Plan points and for tracking weight-loss progress and exercise habits. Weight Watchers also offers a weight-maintenance plan.